Bridges Resource Library

Audio Description

Updated as of January 18, 2024.

What is Audio Description (AD)?

AD for entertainment purposes

Audio description provides verbal descriptions of visual elements of a movie, television show, or other visual production. These elements include unspoken words, descriptions of the setting, and details about characters’ non-verbal actions, facial expressions, dress, etc. Audio description (AD) is built into the video. In professional AD, the AD voice is usually different than that of the actors, and the description is inserted between the dialogue.

AD for informational purposes

Additionally, more and more educational, employment-related, and how-to content has become available, especially since the COVID-19 Pandemic, and audio description is often needed for this content. In many cases, these videos contain text-based and graphic-based information, such as words on the screen, charts, etc. Unfortunately, this valuable information is not visually accessible. Thus, unless the producers of these videos include accessible versions of the materials shown on the screen, individuals who are blind/have low vision need audio descriptions (verbal descriptions of the content in the video) in order to access that information.  

How Can AD Help Me?

Not only does this rich source of information help blind/low vision individuals enjoy the show more, but it is also great for everyone. In particular, typically-sighted individuals with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), with autism, and who benefit from the additional vocabulary and situational descriptions provided by AD. AD can be great for any videos you watch:

  • When a teacher assigns a video, ask that you receive an audio-described version. If the teacher doesn’t know what you’re talking about, ask him/her to contact the Bridges Helpdesk and we’ll show them how to find or make what you need!
  • “How to” videos on the internet
  • Movies and shows you watch for recreation

What is Available in Entertainment-related AD?

Of course, this information changes all the time: especially with regard to television and movies. However, here are a few sources to get you started:

Where Can I Get AD?

Education-related AD:

Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP): LOTS of professionally-described videos related to education.

  • Free access for students in K-12 who are blind/low vision, deaf/hard of hearing, or deafblind
  • Registration required
  • Parents and teachers of eligible students may go in and “assign” videos to students through DCMP
  • DCMP also includes Imagination Storybooks: Audio-described videos of Children’s Illustrated Books (142 as of September 4, 2023)

Please check out the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) Bridges Resource Library entry for more information.

Informational content and AD:

Entertainment-related AD:

Free audio

Video streaming services listings from the Audio Description Project (ADP)

Free streaming services:

Fee-based streaming services:

Contact the Bridges Helpdesk for More Information

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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